Small to medium-sized hospitality businesses are being urged to make the most of new access to the digital apprenticeship service while they still can.
Since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in May 2017, there have been two funding routes for SMEs: the levy transfer, where a levy-paying employer could transfer funds to smaller businesses; and through a limited ‘non-levy' pot of money made available to 700 training providers.
Levy-paying employers had first access to the digital apprenticeship service, so until now SMEs did not have access to the entire training provider register.
However, there are limits of three apprentices per employer and a maximum of 15,000 in total over three months, and SMEs in the industry are being encouraged to act quickly to ensure they can access as much funding as possible.
Adele C Oxberry, chief executive of apprenticeship provider Umbrella Training, said: "At Umbrella, we have supported all our SMEs with apprenticeship funding thanks to the generosity of our hospitality community coming together and sharing their levy pots, however we accept the need for independence with some business partners and welcome the long-awaited release of the digital service to SMEs.
"Whilst only three apprentices can be allocated initially per employer and 15,000 nationally across all sectors, this is a step in the right direction and allows an equal state of play for SMEs to be able to access all apprenticeship providers. Our own demand shows 50 SME apprentices on a waitlist so we are now acting quickly since this announcement to ensure the hospitality sector has a real chance of securing this funding, and we'd urge others to so."